Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Tuesday Evening Update

I am so very happy to report that the entire Cleveland team has made it back safely. I received a message from Jack at 11:30am letting me know that he was taking a tap-tap [a brightly-colored cab] to the airport and was planning on leaving today. I was hesitant to report this news in case he could not get out of Port-au-Prince for some reason. [editor's note 1/27: I recently learned that when arriving at the airport they witnessed a vehicle run over someone's leg. Dr. Fitzgerald and Dr. Vanek loaded this person onto the tap-tap for transfer to a medical clinic at the airport]

A few hours later, at 4:15 pm, he described to me the chaos at the airport:
We arrived at airport and we're in a long line to board military jet. We saw a pilot from a private jet owned by Amway and ran to him to see if he might fly us back. he is working hard to get us approved.

Dr. Fitzgerald, Dr. Vanek, and Dr. H. Kaz Soong, an ophthalmologist from Ann Arbor, were graciously taken on by this pilot and were in the air sometime around 5:00pm. They landed in Grand Rapids, Michigan sometime around 9:30pm. The three were then on their way to Ann Arbor, where Dr. Fitzgerald and Dr. Vanek will spend the night before making the drive back to Cleveland sometime tomorrow.

We will all be happy to welcome them home.

Theresa Jackson reported at 6:53pm that she made it home safely. She writes, "Special thanks to Dr. Vanek, Dr. Fitzgerald, Col. Wilson, Erica and family. I also would like to thank Project Medishare and the local Haitians who helped at the HCH hospital. It was great to see all the people come together to help. I am looking forward to returning to Haiti to continue the assistance in the relief efforts."

I am certain that the Cleveland team's involvement in the Haiti relief effort does not end here, and neither does this story:

Hospitals and clinics supported and staffed by Project Medishare are still running around-the-clock in an effort to address the surgical needs of the victims of the earthquake. The organization is also committed to the long-term care of the victims and will be involved in rebuilding the healthcare infrastructure that they did so much to improve since their founding in 1994. The road ahead is a long one. I encourage everyone to continue to spread the word about this group's fine work. I hope that the stories I have shared here serve as a testament to the power of individuals to come together in hopes of doing some good in the face of overwhelming crisis.

I will continue to update this blog as a more complete story of the team's time there begins to emerge. I may edit earlier posts to paint a more complete picture of the events of the day. I also hope to bring you more photos and news reports whenever I can collect them. Several of us here in Cleveland are planning a benefit to welcome the team home and to support Project Medishare's commitment to Haiti relief. A tentative date has been set for February 8. If you have any questions or comments, you can contact me here.